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Thai nightclub owner charged over deadly blaze  BANGKOK: Thai police have charged a nightclub owner with gross negligence over a fire that killed four people, including two foreigners, on the holiday island of Phuket, an official said Wednesday.   If convicted, Tiger Group owner Piya Isramalai faces up to 10 years in prison for the pre-dawn blaze that swept through the Tiger Discotheque on August 17 on the southern island, a magnet for international tourists.   Piya is also accused of operating a business outside legal opening hours.   "He was officially charged last week after he surrendered to police," said Phuket police investigator Lieutenant Colonel Kittipong Klaikaeo.   He said the case file would soon be submitted to prosecutors.   A British and a French tourist, as well as two Thai women, died in the fire, which is believed to have spread rapidly because flammable materials were used in the construction and decoration of the nightclub.   Eleven other people were injured during the incident, which occurred during ...

India rich grab Australian assets   SYDNEY: India's wealthy, from old money to nouveaux riches IT entrepreneurs, are quietly snapping up hotels and mines Down Under just as Australia embarks on an immigration campaign to attract long-term investment.   The Jindal family, ranked among the world's top 80 richest by Forbes, in May bought two minor stakes, worth a total of A$26 million (US$26.99 million), in Australian iron ore and coal mines through Jindal Steel & Power.   That followed a US$2 billion purchase by ...
Afghan senators want   KABUL: Afghanistan's senate voted to cut the word "friendship" from a pact with France because Islamic texts say it cannot be used to describe relations between Muslims and infidels, senators said on Tuesday.   France, which has seen 88 of its troops killed as part of the NATO coalition backing the Afghan government against Taliban insurgents, signed the 20-year "friendship and cooperation treaty" earlier this year.   "Some senators said that based on Sharia rulings we cannot use the ...
12 dead in Philippine school bus collision  MANILA: Ten school children and two adults were killed when their minibus collided with a truck in a rural area of the northern Philippines on Tuesday, police said.   The bus was carrying the high school students to classes in Sarrat town when it tried to overtake a bus only to smash into a truck coming the other way, said a police report.   The minibus driver and his assistant were killed along with ten of their passengers ranging ...
Former Maldives president risks arrest after trial boycott MALE: The first elected president of the Maldives risks arrest after boycotting the scheduled start of his criminal trial and violating a travel ban, the government said Tuesday.   Mohamed Nasheed had been due to go on trial on Monday on abuse of power charges in connection with the events that led to his toppling in February.   But his case was adjourned, without a new date being set, after Nasheed failed to turn up at court. He was ...
Chinese govt ships in waters of disputed isles: Japan TOKYO: Four Chinese government ships were in territorial waters around disputed islands in the East China Sea on Tuesday, the Japanese coastguard said.   The four maritime surveillance ships entered the waters shortly after 12:30 pm (0330 GMT), the coastguard said in a statement, adding that it was telling the ships to leave the area.   "Patrol ships from our agency have been telling them to sail outside of our territorial waters. There has not been any response" from ...
Maldivian ruling party MP assassinated in capital MALE: An unidentified attacker stabbed and killed a Maldivian ruling party legislator Tuesday in the first assassination of a lawmaker in the Indian Ocean archipelago, police said.   Afrasheem Ali, 46, a lawmaker from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), was attacked on the steps of his apartment in the capital island Male early Tuesday, police spokesman Hassan Haneef told AFP.   "This is the first killing of an MP in the Maldives and we are yet to establish ...

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Foreign Debt $61.805bn
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